One of the top 10 laws you want to understand about your automobile crash case is the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the amount of time you have under South Dakota law to sue the negligent driver for the compensation you could be entitled to. Complying with this law is vital to your case.
What Is the Time Limit to Sue in a Car Wreck Case?
There are three critical deadlines you need to be aware of for making a claim against the negligent driver. You must follow these rules:
- Personal injuries. If you are suing for personal injuries that you suffered in the accident, you must file your lawsuit within three years of the date of the crash.
- Property damage. If your claim is for property damage to your vehicle or other property, you must sue the negligent driver within six years of the date of your wreck.
- Wrongful death. When a loved one died as a result of his injuries, you must file a wrongful death action within three years of the date of his death—not the date of his accident.
What happens if you do not file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations? In most cases, your complaint would be dismissed by the judge, and you cannot file a lawsuit against the negligent driver.
Can You Wait Until the Statute of Limitations Is Approaching to Pursue Your Claim?
While you have until the statute of limitations expires to file your lawsuit, you weaken your claim and the amount you could receive in settlement by waiting to pursue it. Ideally, you want to retain an experienced car accident attorney soon after your crash. Here's how waiting could hurt your case:
- Important evidence, such as business surveillance tapes that may have recorded your crash, could be destroyed.
- Witnesses could become impossible to locate, or their memory of what happened could have faded.
- You could make an inadvertent mistake in your case—such as agreeing to give a recorded statement—that you would not have made if you had the advice of an attorney right after your wreck.
- The insurance adjuster for the negligent driver might interpret your delay to mean that you really were not injured that seriously or use your delay in another way to deny or reduce your claim.
Even if you think the deadline to sue has passed, you want to consult with an experienced car accident attorney to be sure. If you or a family member were injured by a negligent driver, contact Northern Plains Justice to schedule your free, no-obligation case evaluation.